Continuity 101 (or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Scripty)
- Q & A on just what it is that Continuity / Script Supervisors actually do...

I’m a producer. I have a very limited budget – why should I hire you?

Hopefully some of what we’ve discussed above should have helped persuade you of the need to have a proper Script Supervisor.[1] If not – the fact that it will free up your director to do her job properly and give you a better film. On which you have more chance of getting a return. Or that the same goes for most of your other crew – me being there will make it much easier for them to do their jobs.[2] Or that it will make your editor happy – and will cost you less in the edit suite.[3][4]

But if none of that sways you…

I don’t cost you money – I save you money. I claim that I will save you more than my salary in the first three days of shooting.[5] Never mind the story – calculate the cost of that one shot that would otherwise be useless: the stock, the crew time, the equipment, the whole works. The one where I got in with my Columbo “Um…just one thing…” before we shot it, and stopped it from being a waste. And yes, this has happened on every shoot I have worked on to date.

And if you’re doing really low-budget and really think you can’t afford me – well, that’s probably when you need me most.[6] With a mostly green crew, you will get mistakes and omissions, and you want to be minimising them in the most cost-effective way possible to get the best film you can with the very limited amount of time and money you have available. Which is after all what you’re good at. And I’d strongly advocate that the most cost-effective way possible is me.[7]

  1. No, your flatmate doesn’t count. []
  2. Actually I can’t think of much I do with gaffers. Although I suppose I do give them edges on lights and such sometimes when the camera team are busy looking at something else. And yell out “flash” if using one with my camera so they know it’s not one of their lights blowing. Oh, and put up with their awful jokes. []
  3. Okay, it is perhaps possible to shoot a distributable film without a Script Supervisor – if you’re Rolf de Heer. But I know of only one other example where the resulting film has not been seriously compromised – Kiss or Kill (which you’ve probably never heard of if you’re reading this from outside Australia, but it won a lot of AFI Awards here). The (almost complete) lack of matching becomes part of the style, and you do get used to it. After a while. Not however knowing the story behind the absence of a Scripty, I can’t say whether the stylistic choice was intentional or just force of circumstance. Worth pointing out though that Bill Bennett has been directing for thirty years, and has used a Script Supervisor on every other film he’s done before and since… []
  4. The AFI Awards are basically a low-rent Australian equivalent of the Oscars. Incidentally, another AFI-winning film is Four. On which I was the Script Supervisor. Just thought I’d drop that in. []
  5. No, I’m not agreeing to that in writing. I know what you producers are like where money is concerned. []
  6. I still get occasional nightmares about the shoots for the films we made at film school. []
  7. NB. If you are Rolf de Heer, please drop me a line – we should talk. []

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Posted By That Continuity Guy On March 3, 2009 @ 12:32 am In Continuity 101

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